Parking lot d ’elegance and surf culture came together last month at Deus Ex Machina’s latest soiree in Venice, CA. Known for its eclectic corner location at the intersection of Venice and Lincoln Blvds. the retail flagship has become more of a hang-out for the new generation of greaser retro moto biker-heads and bearded surfers than simply a place to shop.
As the brand proclaimed, the parking lot spectacle was not your regular trailer-queen-beauty-parking-polish-off, but a gathering of astonishingly beautiful vehicles with real dirt under their nails. Cars united not only by their singularity of form, but more importantly, by the real world application of their function (as Dues puts it, “no salt lake too wide; no grocery store too far.”)
Dues Ex Machina is the current trend leader in a new form of crossover culture, mainly stemming from surfer roots and retro cars and motorcycles. Once considered an odd combination, more brands are riding this wave with similar aesthetics such as Iron and Resin, and Cobra Lord. Dues, however, brings with it an entire cult-community: Those who live relatively nearby come to the store location (often via painstakingly restored bikes) for their salon-like Sunday brunch get togethers to talk about the latest in surfboards, car culture, denim, and literature.
The vibe also stems from the on-going Americana trends whereby denim and T-shirts have taken on new meaning, retro backpacks have a creative purpose, and workman bibs, tool kits, jackknives, and leather pieces are the materials of the modern-day P.O.P. displays. It’s also an excellent example of the splintering of surfing in general and how the traditional model ala Quiksilver has changed radically from the sun-soaked bright-color vibe to a more retro form that involves a completely different aesthetic in both lifestyle and fashion while being even more modern than their predecessors.
What’s also interesting is that brands like Dues Ex Machina are choosing to show at trade shows such as Agenda and Capsule, where their brand expression works well in show formats that provide a mix of high-end streetwear with a sportswear-like vibe. Although there are surf components, you wouldn’t call this “action sports.” It’s a new breed of sport and lifestyle that brings with it dedicated artisans and community spirit of like-minded people that see adventure in a different light.